Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has reshuffled his loose-forward trio to make room for All Blacks captain Kieran Read against the Hurricanes on Friday.
The international number eight will slot straight into his customary position, shifting incumbent Whetu Douglas to the blindside flank and Jordan Taufua to the bench.
The two-time defending champions have responded to their first loss of the Super Rugby season - 20-12 to the Waratahs last Saturday - with arguably their best available line-up for this week's local derby.
Coach Scott Robertson is delighted he finally has the chance to unleash the All Blacks skipper.
"He's excited. he's fully fit, he's had that mental refresher and he has trained really well," Robertson said.
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"It means a lot [to have Read back]. He has the experience of playing in big games - he offers us a calm head and he has that ability to help out our captain with his leadership."
Read was expected back two weeks ago but his return was put on hold by All Blacks management. The two-time Rugby World Cup winner is excited to finally hit the park.
"The last few weeks have been about making sure everything is in top nick and getting the all clear from the medical team," Read said.
"It's a pretty big year so you obviously have to take all that into account but right now I am confident I am good to go. I can't wait - I feel like I am in as good a nick as I have been at any point of my career which was the aim this year. That's what the long off-season was all about.
"Now it's time to go out there and get stuck in."
The Douglas-Taufua decision is one area of debate, while Will Jordan's emergence has put the established outside backs on notice.
In Sydney, the Crusaders sorely missed rested All Blacks Scott Barrett and Richie Mo'unga, while international prop Owen Franks was a late scratching from his 150th outing for the side, after injuring his shoulder in training.
He will return to celebrate his milestone in Wellington instead. The Christchurch-based franchise is also without All Blacks props Joe Moody (ankle) and Tim Perry (arm), who continue to recover from early-season injuries.
Crusaders: 1-Harry Allan, 2-Codie Taylor, 3-Owen Franks, 4-Scott Barrett, 5-Sam Whitelock, 6-Whetu Douglas, 7-Matt Todd, 8-Kieran Read, 9-Bryn Hall, 10-Richie Mo'unga, 11-George Bridge, 12-Ryan Crotty, 13-Jack Goodhue, 14-Braydon Ennor, 15-David Havili
Reserves: 16-Andrew Makalio, 17-George Bower, 18-Michael Alaalatoa, 19-Quinten Strange, 20-Jordan Taufua, 21-Mitchell Drummond, 22-Brett Cameron, 23-Will Jordan
Join us at 7:30pm Friday for live updates of the Crusaders vs Hurricanes Super Rugby derby.